Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This weekend, I read this book. (I know, I know, I'm meant to be reading that one for the A Practical Wedding book club. But I can't exactly go on a romantic minibreak with my husband and take The Science of a Good Marriage, can I?)

This is not a particularly sophisticated book. It's written from the perspective of a dog, for a start. It also contains a lot of references to car racing, which isn't something I would ever have imagined would be interesting. But, actually, for a little light reading on a carefree weekend, cosied up in pressed sheets and fragrant, fluffy pillows, it was perfect.

Except, there is an incident in the book that didn't quite fit in with the serene and peaceful mood I had planned. In fact, it had me quite literally shaking with rage. My heart was pounding. I actually had to put the book down for a few hours and do something else until the rage had subsided and I could go back and, hesitatingly, pick up where I left off. I won't go into the detail but essentially what it boiled down to was a vile mixture of injustice and powerlessness (oh, how often the two go hand-in-hand).

I didn't go into law to save the world or right wrongs. I went into law because I couldn't think of anything else to do  wanted to be like Ally MacBeal  thought it might be interesting. I've always enjoyed analysing complicated situations and seeking out the most elegant, logical solution. (Like the time I broke into my parents' house using a tent pole. I've never been more proud.) Honestly, I saw law as more of an intellectual pursuit than a vocation. And, true to form, I have ended up practising in an area that is full of complicated regulations and difficult concepts and not much in the way of life-or-death implications, and that's the way I've always liked it.

But I think I may be undergoing a conversion. Your typical law student starts out brimming with high aspirational principles. These are then slowly and ruthlessly ground out of him or her by the tireless, all-consuming force of Hourly Rates, Chargeable Time and Performance-Related Bonuses. I, on the other hand, seem to be floating back in the opposite direction, to the point where a potential fictional miscarriage of justice, narrated by a dog, leaves me boiling with rage at the wickedness of the world. I mean, is this normal? I have no idea.

Was this book a turning point? Was it the final push that would make me throw in the towel on my corporate law job and run off to the Democratic Republic of Congo to be a human rights lawyer and bang up all these scumbags?

Truthfully, no. Probably not. I did sign up to volunteer for a free law clinic, though, so all is not entirely lost.

Image: Getty, via The Telegraph, via Pinterest

Mainly, to be honest, the book just kind of made me want to get a dog. Preferably this one. Anyone know where I can steal him?

10 boats moored

  1. Cuuuuuuuute!!! Can you steal one for me too!?

  2. Dachsunds are pretty cute, but if you give me a detailed rundown of your lifestyle, favorite cupcake and the color of your socks I can divine the best dog breed for you.


    As for quitting corporate law and working for Tiny-Street-Urchins-Who-Love-Justice-And-Puppies-Charity, well once upon a time that was my plan too. But that didn't work out so much. Though the yesterday I read this blog post on GRS (link below) about some guy who saved 75% of this income and then retired after only working for something like 3 years and I thought, hm. Must be nice to make that kind of money!
    If I saved 75% of my current income after three years I'd have six dollars.

    Thanks Grad School.

    So I think what I am saying here is that you should save your entire salary, rely on Fin's income, and after three years buy an island in Hawaii which you can fill with puppies and nice people.

    Give me a call when you get it all sorted, I'll be on the next flight.


  3. so 2 years ago i quit my safe, secure, financial services job to go back to university and become a paediatric nurse. (this was NOT the same as your situation because a) i never set out to work in financial services and b) i hated the job so much i was hospitalised with panic attacks more than once.)

    i am 1000x happier with baby vomit on my shoes and someone else's blood in my hair (true stories) than i ever was discussing tax relief on corporate life insurance, BUT it came at a price. a big stinking financial one that makes me cry at least once per week and choose between electricity and food. it totally impacted fiance's life too because he had to give up cool holidays and eating out because i couldn't afford it.

    i know it will be worth it eventually but the moral of my long-winded comment is that saving the world is frickin' hard, and i wish i'd got a sausage dog instead.

  4. Ah, now you see I'm the opposite. I did an arts degree and then, frustrated by the options presented to me (you're at Durham, therefore you'll work in the City or do a law conversion) I decided I'd never set foot in the corporate world and would instead forge a career working for charities. Which I've done for the past seven years. But now I'm bored, frustrated by dealing with crap day in day out, skint and thinking about retraining as an engineer...

  5. *sigh* Saving the world *is* hard. I've not got to where I want to be to do my part (which will probably take a massive loan - hurray for entrepreneurship!), but I certainly know what you mean about the corporate grind. (Yuck.) The only difference is, I think I want a horse instead of a dog.

  6. I'm only on the verge of entering the corporate law world, but I do have a little piece of advice that I like to think about sometimes that a professor imparted in our last class: "treat your first day of work as your first day in jail, as in, think of an exit strategy."

    This sounds totally depressing, right? But it's not. Because his point was that corporate work isn't the stopping point for most attorneys; it's just the beginning part where you learn how to be a lawyer. So he wanted us to think about where we want to go after the corporate world, and see our work as big-firm lawyers as a way to get there. I still don't know where I want to get to, but I like the idea of using a future goal to make my present work more meaningful. Just a thought!

    And I want a puppy, too! I saw a schnauzer-poodle mix the other day and it was just about the cutest thing ever.

  7. if you want the perfect yellow skirt stay corporate! Trust me, trying to save the world (or just our little bit of sea) does NOT pay, but it is fun x

  8. saving the world is hard when every day brings a new horror perpetrated on animals by humans (that being where my passion lies) i want to read this book purely because of the dog perspective now and i also adore sausage dogs (just don't tell my westies!) i work as a legal secretary so believe me when i tell you if you think being the actual lawyer is boring it's at least got the bonus of bonuses and good pay-secretaries get the drudgery with none of the perks! hence my ongoing battle to make a career from art which is what i would've done if i hadn't been so easily distracted in art class way back when!

  9. I <3 you.

    And it's totally normal. Have you read oh crap, I've forgotten its name. That caravan book by the woman who wrote 'a brief history of tractors in Ukranian'? (also wonderful btw) There's a bit in it narrated by a dog and it broke my heart. Dogs have the power.

  10. Want a dog. And books for my honeymoon.

    I hear what you're saying. I actually went into my career from a position of rage, seeking anything to solve things. Doesn't quite work...